BOSTON (AP) -Paul Pierce had no trouble with his right knee or the Los Angeles defense, scoring 16 points in the first half and helping the Boston Celtics take a 54-42 lead over the Lakers on Sunday night in Game 2 of the NBA finals.
Fellow All-Stars Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen also had strong halves for the Celtics, who were trying to open a 2-0 lead before the series shifts to Southern California.
They got help in the form of foul trouble for Kobe Bryant, who picked up three in the half and was on the bench when the Celtics pulled away in the closing minute. Boston was 14-of-19 from the free throw line, while Los Angeles was 2-for-2.
Pierce sprained his right knee and was carried from the floor in the third quarter of Game 1, but quickly returned and led the Celtics to a 98-88 victory. He didn't practice Friday, but had treatment over the weekend and was ready to go by Sunday morning.
He shot 5-of-9 in the half and added five assists. Garnett had eight points and seven rebounds, while Allen scored nine points.
Kendrick Perkins also was in the starting lineup despite spraining his right ankle in Game 1. He scored five points in only 10 minutes, but the Celtics didn't miss him because Leon Powe came off the bench to score eight, aggressively taking the ball to the rim and taking nine free throws, making six.
Pau Gasol scored 13 points for the Lakers. Bryant had nine on 4-of-10 shooting.
Gasol's basket cut the Celtics' lead to four with 4:22 left in the half, but Pierce and Allen nailed consecutive 3-pointers to make it 47-37. The lead was seven with 1 1/2 minutes remaining, but Pierce made two free throws and a jumper in a closing 7-2 surge that gave the Celtics a 54-42 lead.
The Lakers started quickly, scoring seven straight points to open a 15-8 lead midway through the first quarter. The Celtics battled back to grab one-point lead on Garnett's jumper with 1:03 to go, but Jordan Farmar's 3-pointer with 3.7 remaining gave a Los Angeles a 22-20 lead.
Bryant was on the bench to start the second, and Boston took advantage. The Celtics opened with a 10-0 spurt, seizing a 30-22 advantage on Pierce's 3-pointer with 9:48 left in the half. Bryant ended the drought with a jumper 24 seconds later.
Game 3 is Tuesday night in Los Angeles.
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